Editorial: Our Gaming Influences

Ginia's Game Collection
Ginia's Game Collection

Greetings, my Lusi-sprites. It appears that we have survived the prophesied Raptor Apocalypse of 05/21/2011 and can live to game another day. Huzzah! To celebrate the lack of death and destruction, I went to my game collection in search of a nerdy way to enjoy the rest of my Raptor-free weekend. As I scanned the shelves it occurred to me that my taste in games is quite defined at this point. If it is not a JRPG or some sort of quaint simulator (preferably involving potatoes) I have about, oh, zero interest in it. My taste in games should not be news to anyone who has followed this cesspool of a site for more than an hour. However, the reasons behind these preferences are currently unknown. Hopefully by sharing something of my gaming origins and influences, you all may be inspired to reflect upon your own. Whether you wish to share those reflections with the rest of this community is, of course, optional.

Let us set our Wayback Machine to 1995 or so and meet up with a much younger me. Awww, look how cute I was. At the time I was the proud owner of my very first console, the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES). I also owned Super Mario All-Stars and Super Mario World, as they came with the console. I had a copy of Mortal Kombat 3 because I thought that fighting games were “cool”. I had an aunt who also owned a SNES and who would allow me to borrow games from her, as I could not then afford to buy many games for myself. One of her games, and the one that really opened my eyes to how much I could enjoy gaming, was Illusion of Gaia. It made me fall in love with the RPG genre; from that point on I would choose new games to play based on whether or not that game was like Illusion of Gaia. At the time I did not quite understand that there were official gaming genres. To me, there were simply games like Gaia, and games not like Gaia.

Illusion of Gaia US Box Art
Illusion of Gaia US Box Art

Some of the things that I found so appealing about Illusion of Gaia and the RPG genre were the hero and other characters. They had a voice, which was a mind-blowing realization to someone accustomed to silent avatars like Mario. They had feelings and emotions which were expressed to me through their dialogue. Occasionally, the characters would even have internal monologues, allowing me even greater insight into their psyche. It became so easy to be emotionally involved and invested in what was happening around them because they seemed more real to me. –Not as real as the person sitting beside me, but as real, perhaps, as a character in a book or movie. I would complete other games just for the sake of completing a game, but with Gaia I pushed forward through the game because I wanted to see where Will and Kara’s journey would take them. I cared about what happened to them and all of the poor little NPCs around them.

The other aspect of Illusion of Gaia that I loved was the towns. One of my favourite parts of the game, and a part I always looked forward to during my many replays, was exploring the towns. I would visit every house, go down every side street, talk to every NPC, and peer in every pot or barrel. It was all so fascinating, thinking that some game developer somewhere created an entire town from his or her imagination. I would mentally insert myself into the town, decide which house I wanted to live in, which bed I would claim at the Inn, etc. This is something that I am only slightly embarrassed to admit that I still do today. I still love exploring towns and calling dibs on where I would want to live if I were a character in a video game.

Realistic towns and people seem like such a small and obvious thing to use now. Most games feature these elements today, regardless of genre. However, during the late 1990s and early 2000s this was not the case. My preference for games with a similar feeling to Illusion of Gaia led me to games like Chrono Trigger and the Final Fantasy series as a whole. I remember playing Sim City 3000 and treating it like a town in an RPG, and I remember being utterly bored by platform and fighting games.

So dear readers: whether they be confined to a few genres or more broad, what are your gaming tastes? Are you aware of the origin of your preferences? Did you have any special gaming influences when you were younger? Use the comments below to tell us!


  1. I’m not sure about the origins.
    All I liked were platformers at first. I bought Kirby’s Dream Land, Jungle Book, Super Mario Land, and Donkey Kong Land for my big fat grey Game Boy. That’s basically all I played. Then on the console, I actually tended to prefer multiplayer games. So, largely, very different from now when I tend to prefer RPGs and single-player experiences. Although I still like Nintendo platformers.

    I think it was Pokémon and my friend Colin that made the switch. I got addicted to Pokémon, and Colin would incessantly talk about the Final Fantasy series and Skies of Arcadia. So I finally borrowed his Dreamcast and played Skies. Then Final Fantasy VII, then IX, then I was beyond hooked. He also tried to get me to play Metal Gear Solid, but it didn’t hook me in the same way that the RPGs did.

    That might be because I’m actually pretty bad at most games, but there it is.

    That’s pretty much where it stands now, too. 80% RPGs, 10% 1st Party Nintendo titles 10% fruity addicting games/screensavers.

  2. Dragon Quest, followed by Final Fantasy. The latter changed my life.

  3. The first real game that I ever played was a Jurassic Park game for the SEGA Genesis. Somehow, this made me interested in games. I am not really sure why.

    I then played much of Sonic 2 and 3, and I later received as a gift one blue Game Boy Pocket along with a copy of Pokemon Blue. There was no turning back from that point. My experiences with gaming have been so varied (from the platformers and adventure games of old to first person shooters to all kinds of RPGs) that I have never settled down into one single genre. Playing many different kinds of games early on in life molded me so that genre did not matter to me, only how enjoyable the game was.

    However, as I always have, I nearly always play games for the plot. I can thank movies and books for that.

  4. The Game Boy was my first system, my first games were a bunch of crappy early GB games. Pokemon Red/Blue and Final Fantasy VII introduced me to RPGs, and I was never the same.

    I have never played Illusion of Gaia, but along with Terranigma, it is one of the few SNES games left that I would still like to play. I have played and completed Soul Blazer, but I did not particularly care for it.

  5. I should clarify that those were not my first games , just the first ones to matter.

    I owned a Pong console, and then an Atari 2600, followed by a 7800, before I got my NES. Until Dragon Quest, games were games. Some were special (Metroid, Castlevania), but they were just games and I played most of them unless they were terrible.

    After DQ and then FF, I thought about games as serious venues for telling some kind of interesting fantasy story. From that point onward, I focused increasingly on Adventure games and RPGs.

    And now 75-90% of the games I play are JRPGs. I put that all down to FF.

  6. My first experiences with gaming was 8bit platformers on the NES and Dragon Warrior. Both of which I loved. I also liked, though somewhat less, shooters like Galaga and Ms. Pacman in the local arcades. Later on I got my own NES and FF1 which was great. This was probably around the time the SNES came out. I eventually got my own SNES and had damn near every Squaresoft title.

    When the 32bit era came around I got a Playstation fairly close to the launch and Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain which from having played A Link to the Past only a few months earlier was pretty mindblowing. I continued playing JRPGs pre-FF7 primarily picking up Vandal Hearts, Suikoden (and foolishly trading it in), and Revelations: Persona. Then FF7 came out and wowwed the shit out of everyone, myself included.

    Square spent the next few years launching tons of new IPs and (for the most part) quality sequels and unlike the 16bit era I had the sense to not trade them in for shitty amounts of store credit. Some friends had a N64, so I got to play a bunch of those games (Mario 64, Mario Kart64, OoT up to the Water Temple, Goldeneye, etc.).

    The 32bit era I stuck with Sony and got a PS2 launch day. Square-Enix became increasingly disappointing. I enjoyed FFX when it came out and was ZOMGAMAZING, but looking at it now it’s kind of lame. FF12 I enjoyed the story (watching the CSes back to back instead of spread over hours on Youtube), but hated Gambits, Hunts, and much of the other sidequest shit. That disappointment was greatly relieved when I tried out SMT: Nocturne and the newer Persona games.

    As of now I’m mostly playing a few PC games and going through my backlog of older games as I’m too broke to get a current gen console.

  7. About Ginia’s game collection: look at all those shitty greatest hits and player’s choice labels! Ewwwww!!!

    MY collection is free of such abominations!

  8. Lusipurr is a big butt.

    Pokecrap getting Ethos into games … explains a lot.

  9. ok, this’ll make you go wtf!!! My 1st was pong home console @ 4 years old. b4 you ask, I’m 37. I saw the original console war.

  10. I want to say that I had thought about mentioning all that abominable green label stuff that infests Ginia’s collection, but had forgotten to until Lusipurr mentioned it again. The Great Potato demands a blood sacrifice to ameliorate this! Thankfully, most of the people in that frozen land of Canadia will suffice despite only being technically human. Lay waste to three thus that he might be appeased, Ginia!

  11. Well it is Canada, perhaps she bought them to be ironic?

  12. Also, I see no order to those games. PS2 mixed with PS1 mixed with whateverthefuck.

    Bionic Commando (NES) isn’t the first game I’ve ever played, as I started on an Atari 2600, but it was the first game I fell in love with. It was platforming with a twist.

  13. @EricJ: One might say that Bionic Commando got you into the swing of things?

    Also, yes: her games are all mixed-up. I could understand if they were alphabetised, but they’re not. It’s just a jumble. A JUMBLE!!!

    @SN: I rather think that Canada only gets Greatest Hits/Player’s Choice titles.

  14. Y’all are boobs.

    I believe they are sorted by console when possible, but also by series. I didn’t arrange them. >.>

    There’s also a CD case with assorted discs that lack cases. :(

  15. I did some science and determined that no such thing exists. Clearly, they are Ginia’s Xbox360 Call of Duty games. HER TERRIBLE SECRET HAS BEEN REVEALED!!!

  16. It’s nice to see someone appreciating Illusion of Gaia, I have very fond memories of that one too. And the SNES and it’s attendant best was my favorite period in console video games, especially RPG’s.

    Now, my first system was a NES at 4 years old, and Super Mario Bro’s took my breath away. Literally, holding it in anticipating some of those huge jumps and getting by a hammer koopa…

  17. @Matt: Glad to see a new, PROPER OLD SCHOOL gamer commenting.

    Ahh, the good-old-days. How I miss them!

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